When The Hartford set its sights on increasing engagement with its more than 1 million small business customers across the country, the integrated marketing team decided to scale up a successful print value-add into a robust digital Business Owner's Playbook with the potential to significantly deepen relationships with small business owners. The Hartford provides a suite of protection products to small businesses, and helping those customers with the challenges of starting and growing a small business has always been important to the company. The Business Owner’s Playbook, a 44-page print piece of valuable insights and practical tips that had enjoyed years of popularity with customers, was the perfect springboard for an enhanced content marketing program for the digital age.

Creating a Body of Knowledge

The Hartford reached out to Primacy, a leader in responsive design,  to create a website that would provide users on desktops, tablets, and smartphones the same easy access to content covering a wide range of topics, including HR, benefits, leadership, and digital marketing. “We’re experts on insurance,” says AVP Michael Kuczkowski, but  the Playbook’s credibility would rest on creating robust content that went beyond The Hartford’s expertise.

That’s where Carpenter Group stepped in. Editorial Director Cathy Weigel was tasked with developing content for nearly 700 online pages, wrangling a team of contributors to produce a coherent, consistent, and reliable body of knowledge aligned with The Hartford’s brand voice and business objectives. “It’s become a much bigger resource that can hit an even bigger audience,” says Kuczkowski, “and we couldn’t have done it without Carpenter Group’s help.”

Carpenter Group’s deep bench of editorial talent allowed Weigel to execute rapidly on Kuczkowski’s strategy. “Within a couple of weeks, we had five extremely experienced writers across the country who were working as a dedicated topic research and writing team for The Hartford,” Weigel explains. “And I personally ensure that all content is on brand and in the right voice, and meets The Hartford's editorial, technical and quality standards.”

The Hartford will aggressively leverage social media to promote the Playbook  content, as well as additional, timely content from well-known business experts, such as popular columnist Gene Marks, who have been tapped to provide regular insight and commentary.

“Our plan right now is to touch business owners between 30 and 40 times per week in our various social media and email channels—LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook,” says Kuczkowski. “But it’s really going beyond the Playbook,” he emphasizes. “We plan to have virtual and live events with these experts to help bring the Playbook to life. This really is a community experience that should benefit business owners day after day.”

The Value of Content

Kuczkowski says the idea was an easy sell to senior executives, who “have seen the value of content since day one.” Previous content campaigns, like one built around a survey of small business owners, had measurably driven site traffic and customer engagement. “Everybody realized that an investment in content makes total sense,” says Kuczkowski. And efficiencies in responsive design and synergies enabled by social media mean the project’s not a budget buster, even though the digital Playbook represented a significant increase in editorial scope.

Indeed, it’s just that comprehensive scope that has attracted the interest of partners like AARP, who plan to help promote the Playbook to their audience, exponentially increasing The Hartford’s potential reach to new customers. Agents are also key to the promotion strategy, and The Hartford is encouraging them to interact with the Playbook and share it with clients via social media. Kuczkowskialso hopes to get some traction in search through Google Authorship.

Social media also makes it much easier for The Hartford to gather—and respond to—user experience data. Kuczkowski plans to use standard metrics for email and site traffic to measure engagement and adjust content accordingly. He’ll also rely on direct feedback from business owners to make sure the Playbook remains responsive to their needs. “This is designed to deepen the relationships that we have with existing clients and bring in new clients,” says Kuczkowski. “We're going to be looking at it almost constantly.”

The results have already exceeded Kuczkowski’s expectations. “It’s one of the best examples of a mobile-friendly content deliverable that I've seen.” The Hartford has given the Business Owner’s Playbook a soft launch, with a full site rollout to follow shortly.

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